New Delhi: As Delhi’s air quality soars beyond hazardous level and the government’s emergency plans to tackle the city’s crisis seem to be having an almost negligible impact, Supreme Court judge Justice Arun Mishra said that he would not wish to settle in the city after retirement. Expressing his anguish over the toxic air of the capital, Justice Mishra who is from Madhya Pradesh said, “It is difficult to live in Delhi. In the morning and evening, there is so much pollution and traffic congestion.” He further added,
Earlier I was attracted to live in Delhi, but now, no longer. After retirement, I won’t stay in Delhi. It has become a gas chamber.
Judge Mishra who was hearing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) on air pollution in the city, cited an example to explain the problem of traffic, saying he was stuck in traffic on Friday morning and could have missed the swearing-in of two judges at the apex court.
Since October 2018, residents of Delhi, home to more than 20 million people, have struggled to breathe under a blanket of thick smog. World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked the national capital among the world’s worst polluted cities and experts say that it is because of years of breakneck growth in auto sales and coal-fired power generation.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi has recorded ‘severe’ and ‘very poor’ air quality many times during the last few months. The Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded in Delhi on Friday was 397 which is considered ‘very poor’ as compared the CPCB’s recommended limit of 100. On Saturday also the air quality continued to be ‘very poor’ and slipped to a ‘severe’ 404 on Sunday. Authorities say that due to unfavourable winds, the capital may see more days with ‘severe’ and ‘very poor’ air quality in the coming weeks.
Justice Arun Mishra asked the Delhi government to speed up the actions required to check pollution in the city like finalising the Rapid Rail Transport System connecting Delhi and Meerut and take up other measures finalised under Centre’s comprehensive action plan on pollution. Quashing the Delhi Government’s response for not being able to speed up the Rapid Rail Transport System due to lack of funds, Justice Mishra said,
Delhi government cannot avoid its responsibilities and needs to work on long term pollution abetment measures instead of focusing on the short-term measures that can only give temporary relief.
He said that many polluting vehicles enter Delhi at night and asked authorities why they were allowing these to enter the national capital. The top court also directed the Delhi government to finalise a parking policy for Delhi and get back on February 1, when the hearing is scheduled next.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) criticised Delhi authorities over traffic congestion and for not being able to stop garbage burning in the city. The Central Pollution Control Board had imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore each on three civic bodies in Delhi for burning garbage and dumping waste in the open.
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